The Maalawi Law Society (MLS) has closed its Legal Resources Centre to less-previleged members of society by imposing a daily entry fee of K150 (equivalent to US$1).
Recent World Bank reports indicate that Malawi has managed to reduce poverty levels from 69 per cent in 2004, to 39 per cent in 2010.
This shows that, by imposing a K150 entry fee on its Legal Resources' Centre materials, MLS has but shut 39 per cent of Malawians out.
People go to MLS's Legal Resources' Centre to read newspapers (these newspapers are now selling at K180 a copy), law books, legal case studies, international magazines, among others.
Law students also utilise the facility to supplement their educational materials.
Now, with the introduction of fees, the Legal Resources' Centre is almost empty.
Zachimalawi has been vising the centre from Monday last week to gauge the effect of the new rates.
Michael Chandamale, a Law student who used to utilise the facility told Zachimalawi"
"This is sad. My parents struggle to pay school fees, and now we have this new fee of K150. Where can we get the money to pay for the books,most of them are donated to MLS, and study from their books? This is sad."
Sources say MLS came up with the new measure after some Malawian lawyers who frequent the Legal Resources' Centre complained that some "common members" of the general public were producing a very bad smell.
Said the source: "Some people were coming here without bathing, and this was making lawyers feel very uneasy. The other reason is that most lawyers simply do not want to be seen by members of the general public doing reserch work (in public); they feel that members of the general public will begin to think that the job of a lawyer is a simple one," said the source.
For weeks now, MLS Legal Resources' Centre has been 95 per cent empty, a development likely to please its membership (Malawian lawyers).